Treatment and Prevention

Treatment and Prevention


Know your treatment goals


The treatment goals of atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) start with a proper diagnosis through an in-depth examination from a physician. The exam usually includes questions about your history and often an EKG or ECG. Some patients may need a thorough electrophysiology study.


Prevention and Risk Reduction


Although no one is able to absolutely guarantee that a stroke or a clot can be preventable, there are ways to reduce risks for developing these problems.

After a patient is diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, the ideal goals may include:

  • Restoring the heart to a normal rhythm (called rhythm control)
  • Reducing an overly high heart rate (called rate control)
  • Preventing blood clots (called prevention of thromboembolism such as stroke)
  • Managing risk factors for stroke
  • Preventing additional heart rhythm problems
  • Preventing heart failure


Getting Back on Beat


Avoiding atrial fibrillation and subsequently lowering your stroke risk can be as simple as foregoing your morning cup of coffee. In other words, some AFib cases are only as strong as their underlying cause. If hyperthyroidism is the cause of AFib, treating the thyroid condition may be enough to make AFib go away.

Doctors can use a variety of different medications to help control the heart rate during atrial fibrillation.

"These medications, such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, work on the AV node," says Dr. Andrea Russo of University of Pennsylvania Health System. "They slow the heart rate and may help improve symptoms. However, they do not 'cure' the rhythm abnormality, and patients still require medication to prevent strokes while remaining in atrial fibrillation."

Recent Discussions From The Newly Diagnosed Forum
yollicsa avatar

I went to the ER at approx. 8:00 PM Friday, 7/13/18 with an odd feeling in my chest and a heart rate averaging 164 BPM up to 189, per my Polar HRM.  Diagnosed as being in AFib VERY quickly by ER staff.  I converted to sinus rhythm about 4.5 hrs later (12:30 AM) and then went back into AFib about 17 hours later for a short time.  I was released from the hospital around noon on Sunday and was sent home on Eliquis (5 mg, 2X) and Cardizem.  On Tuesday, my cardiologist deleted the Cardizem and put me on Sotalol (1/2 80 mg tablet, 2X).

I am 66 years old and am quite active.  I exercise regularly, play softball and, most importantly, played hockey 3 plus times a week in the winter.  I am VERY concerned about the impact AFib and the associated medications will have on my activity.  I know "contact sports" are not recommended for people on blood thinners but our hockey is mostly "old guy" hockey where checking is not permitted.  Unfortunately, contact is not totally unavoidable so I am looking for input on people's experiences in this area.  My cardiologist was clearly leary of me playing hockey but did not say "no."  The cardiologist in the hospital felt it wasn't a big problem given that is not highly competitive and I wear a helmet with a face mask.  Additionally, I have been talking to some of my leaguemates and already know of several that have been on blood thinners for some time.  All words of wisdom will be appreciated!

Thanks,

Steve

Lockhart07 avatar

When is a heart rate too fast? I was just sitting on the couch reading a book when suddenly I had shortness of breath. I check my Apple Watch and my heart rate was 98 bpm. But what’s too high? I’m on 50 mg of Metoprolol. 

SinusRhythm avatar

I have on and off AFib now for 6 months.  I converted with Sotalol (200mg) each dose.  Would not convert on 160mg so they bumped it up to 200mg.  Was in NSR for 4 days on Sotalol 200mg and then had a breakthrough atrial flutter 30 minutes after taking the Sotalol.  Pulse was in the 130's, 140's and I even saw 152. Thought it was a reaction to Sotalol.  The flutter lasted 3 hours.  12 hours later I took the next Sotalol 200mg dose.  Had another breakthrough atrial flutter 30 minutes after the dose.  Lasted 3 hours.  Went to the ER.  I was admitted and kept on Sotalol (was told about the breakthrough flutter since i thought it was a reaction to Sotalol).  They kept me for 5 days while still taking 200mg Sotalol.  Since the breakthrough flutter Sotalol lost it's effectiveness.  In and out of AFib for the 5 days in the hospital.  Pulse would be in the 60's and 70's while sitting and when I would walk across the room to the restroom it would go up into the 120's and 130's.  After seeing my pulse dip into the low 40's one night they stopped Sotalol (it wasn't working anyway since the breakthrough flutter).  I've been home since 5/27.  I'm continuing to take Diltiazem (240mg ER) and Metoprolol (50mg ER).  I purchased a Kardia EKG device.  Really cool.  App on my phone.  You can email results.  Since I've been off Sotalol I've been in normal rhythm every day (all day) except for 3 days since 5/27.  It seems that if I have AFib early in the day I will have it all day long.  Now to talk about Tiksyn.  I've read that Tikosyn is reserved for AFibber's that are very symptomatic, (the drug is dangerous).  I've never had an ablation.  I had a sleep study last week and I'm waiting for the results.  I'm dieting and losing weight (13 pounds lost 47 to go).  I'm thinking that I'm not a candidate for Tikosyn.  What is the definition of very symptomatic?  Could anyone please give me thoughts on this? 

Thanks

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